Documents considered by the Committee on 4 December 2013 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

2 Beyond 2015: towards a comprehensive and inte-grated approach to financing poverty eradication and sustainable development



COM(13) 531



+ ADDs 1-3

SWD(13) 273

Commission Communication: Beyond 2015 — towards a comprehensive and integrated approach to financing poverty eradication and sustainable development

Commission Staff Working Paper: EU Accountability Report 2013 on Financing for Development. Review of progress by the EU and its Member States: accompanying the Communication

Legal base
Departments International Development;

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs;

Energy and Climate Change

Basis of consideration Ministers' letter dated 21 November 2013
Previous Committee Report HC 83-xiv (2013-14), chapter 7 (11 September 2013); also see (34747) 7075/13: HC 83-xiv (2013-14), chapter 4 (11 September 2013)
Discussion in Council 12 December 2013
Committee's assessment Politically important
Committee's decision For debate in European Committee B (with the Commission Communication already recommended for debate)


2.1 An earlier Commission Communication — A decent life for all: ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future — set out the Commission's view on the international post-2015 development agenda: ending poverty and ensuring that future prosperity and well-being are sustainable. It brings together the debate about what international framework should succeed the MDGs[3] and the process to establish new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) arising from the Rio+20 conference — where government leaders agreed that the new SDGs should be coherent and integrated with the post-2015 development agenda. It proposes that the EU work towards a single overarching framework and integration of the MDG review and SDG process. It sets out five "priority elements" for that single framework — meeting basic living standards, promoting drivers for inclusive and sustainable growth, ensuring sustainable management of natural resources, upholding equality, equity and justice, and peace and security — and a set of guiding principles.

2.2 The Commission envisaged that this Communication would be followed by a debate with the Council and the European Parliament during the spring of 2013 that would ensure a comprehensive follow up to Rio+20; guide the EU position at the UN Open Working Group on the SDGs, which would report regularly to the UNGA; and contribute to the preparation of a UN General Assembly Special Event on the MDGs in September 2013, including the report of the Secretary-General and the UN High Level Panel on post-2015 (which is co-chaired by the Prime Minister and his counterparts from Indonesia and Liberia).

2.3 The Ministers concerned (Lynne Featherstone and Richard Benyon) subsequently told the Committee that the Conclusions adopted by the 25 June General Affairs Council (GAC) on that Communication provided "a high level structure to guide the interventions of Member States within the various processes taking forward Rio+20 outcomes and the post-2015 development agenda, including the UN special event in September" and allow the UK "to engage openly and constructively in these processes, including the intergovernmental UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, in which we are working in partnership with the Netherlands and Australia."

2.4 We recommended that that Commission Communication be debated in the European Committee B after the UN Special Event, to enable interested Members to hear from, and question, the Ministers about its outcome.[4]

The Commission Communication

2.5 This Commission Communication, and its accompanying Commission Staff Working Paper, sets out the EU Commission's perspectives on financing the post-2015 development framework.

2.6 The Communication begins with an analysis of the current and future financing for development landscapes and looks at how the sources of financing for developing countries are changing. It also acknowledges the processes to mobilise resources in other areas including climate change and biodiversity with a view to framing a coherent position. It then sets-out some guiding principles for a comprehensive EU approach to post-2015 development financing. It was commented upon fully in our previous Report by the Ministers concerned (Lynne Featherstone, Richard Benyon and Gregory Barker).[5]

2.7 The Ministers said that the Communication was broadly in-line with established Government positions; provided a very good analytical basis; and laid the groundwork well for more specific policy development. That the Communication was developed jointly by the Commission's Directorates for Development, Environment and Climate was important, given the need for a post-2015 development agenda that integrated the financing for development and sustainable development agendas. The Ministers also welcomed the recognition given to the role of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC)[6] and to the importance — and growing relevance — of private sector and domestic financial contributions, as well as new and innovative sources of finance. The "Principles" section usefully highlighted key elements that could form the basis of a future EU approach to financing for development; in particular, the recognition that all countries, including Upper Middle Income Countries, should contribute their fair share and shoulder more responsibility; that accountability lies in the first instance between a government and its people; and of the need to modernise the ODA definition.[7]

Our assessment

2.8 "Priority elements" and "guiding principles" for the post-2015 development agenda were all well and good; but it is the financing dimensions that would determine the extent to which they were realised. The Council Conclusions to be adopted in December would thus be of particular importance. We therefore asked the Ministers:

  • to write to us about the outcome of the process of discussion and consultation about the Council Conclusions that they outlined above; and
  • to do so in sufficient time before the Council at which they were to be adopted for a prior debate to be arranged.

2.9 In the meantime, we:

  • retained this Commission Communication under scrutiny;
  • drew that chapter of our Report to the attention of the International Development Committee; and
  • considered that chapter of our Report should form part of the document pack for the debate on the earlier Commission Communication, A decent life for all: ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future.[8]

The Ministers' letter of 21 November 2013

2.10 In their letter, the Ministers now concerned (Lynne Featherstone, Gregory Barker and Dan Rogerson) say that, whilst the Conclusions are still under negotiation in Brussels, and further amendments may be negotiated in the coming days, there is now broad agreement on the main elements. They attach the latest draft of the Conclusions (which are reproduced at the annex to this chapter of our Report), and comment as follows:

    "We believe the current draft of the Conclusions reflects cross-government priorities well; including perspectives on financing for development beyond 2015. The Conclusions describe a rightfully ambitious and principled EU approach to development financing and include a re-affirmation of the EU target to spend 0.7% of GNI on Official Development Assistance (ODA). Importantly, there is a strong focus in the Conclusions on both poverty eradication and the need to target ODA at the poorest countries.

    "The Conclusions also stress that financing should be looked at through a wide lens going beyond ODA to include all financial flows, such as those from private and domestic sources as well as those that are 'innovative' in nature. The Conclusions also recognise the need for coherence with other financing discussions such as those on climate change and biodiversity.

"The Presidency intends to table these Conclusions for adoption at the EU Development Foreign Affairs Council on 12 December, at which Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development will represent the UK. We hope that, at this stage and given the tight timeframe, this response provides enough information for your Committee to give scrutiny clearance to allow discussions to move ahead freely.

"We hope that the Committee will agree that this Conclusion represents a good outcome for the UK, especially given the diversity of views on development financing amongst EU Member States."


2.11 It is disappointing that, for no apparent reason, the Government has chosen not to debate the earlier Commission Communication sooner than 11 December — the day before the Council at which these Conclusions are to be adopted.

2.12 We have no choice, therefore, other than to recommend that this Communication be debated jointly with that earlier Communication in European Committee B on 11 December.

2.13 We are also drawing this chapter of our Report to the attention of the International Development Committee.

3   The eight goals UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that, in 2000, the UN set itself to achieve, most by 2015: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; develop a partnership for development - each with associated targets and benchmarks to measure progress. Back

4   See headnote: (34747) 7075/13: HC 83-xiv (2013-14), chapter 7 (11 September 2013). Back

5   See HC 83-xiv (2013-14), chapter 7 (11 September 2013). Back

6   According to its website, the Global Partnership helps nations, business and organizations work better together to end poverty: it brings governments, private companies, civil society and others together to ensure funding, time and knowledge produce maximum impact for development. See for full information. Back

7   See our previous Report for full details. Back

8   See headnote: HC 83-xiv (2013-14), chapter 4 (11 September 2013). Back

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Prepared 11 December 2013